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Cleaning Sandpaper

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  • Cleaning Sandpaper

    Yes, the subject is right. And I don't think I am crazy, but you can decide.

    I have a Performax 16/32 sander, and the sandpaper is almost $30 per box ($7 per belt). I believe it was on this forum that someone suggested that I could clean the sanding belts with Simple Green, then soak in water and rinse. (I searched and can't find the suggestion, so I really may be losing it).

    Good news. The bath in Simple Green really works great. Gunked up sanding belts come out like new. So good that I have washed the belts from my portable and benchtop belt sanders as well as the big ones from the Performax, and even tried some discs from the ROS that got gunked too early. A 20 year old Sears belt from the bottom of the drawer came so clean that only cloth (no grit) was left, but all the others came out great.

    But the question is this... Most of the Performax belts wash and dry wonderfully. But my latest box of Performax belts curl up like crazy. Even hard to rinse. Harder to dry. But when they are finally dry, the belts seem fine. But the writing on the back of the belts is gone. Appears to be a different type of material, but I can't find the difference in the brand or the codes (looking at those that haven't been washed). The good belts are darker cloth, the curly belts are lighter gray. Does anyone know why the difference? Does the curl means I am doing something to the belt so that the belt will destroy my next project? Or am I the only person in the world who washes their sanding belts?

  • #2
    Never heard of putting paper in water to clean it. Most of us use one of those nice rubber sticks. Cleans the stuff right off and gives you a nearly new surface to work with again.


    • #3
      I've got the rubber stick like the jumbo eraser, but the Simple Green works FAR better... until it started curling the latest batch of belts.

      One of the issues is the ordinary PVA wood glue - the heat of the drum sander melts the residue along glue-up lines, and makes a "ring around the paper" - clogs the paper (a line of no sanding, but rubbing leading to more heat and potentially burning). The eraser doesn't touch the glue, but the wet cleaning does great on both the glue and the other residue. When dry, the belts look like new.

      I think the wet cleaning system is great - I recommend it [img]smile.gif[/img] - until the new belts that curled so badly while wet . I still don't think I have a problem, since the belts were back to normal when dry, but just to be sure I don't destroy a project (like the Cherry table I am currently making) I am checking here to see if anyone has any "lessons learned" to share about belts that curled when wet.

      Just think how crazy I would look if the subject of the post was "curly wet sandpaper"


      • #4
        Charlie, it may be a different weight backing and it just reacts differently. I guess it's also possible that they have changed vendors. All the media I have is made by Klingspor. I have a couple new boxes unopened, I'll check and see if the maker has changed. I think as long as it straightens again dry, there probably is no difficulty.

        Mike, Performax media strips aren't paper backed, they are X-weight (if memory serves) cloth backed. Belt sander belts are also cloth backed, as are at least many random orbital sander pieces.



        • #5
          Dave, if this is something you do too, please tell the world I'm not crazy! Because it sure sounds sick but works well.

          Seriously, I just checked again, and both the old (not curly) and the newer (curly) belts are made by Klingspor, Germany, CS311 (don't know that code), OC (open coat), Antistatic, Pnnn where nnn is the grit (I'm not sure what the P stands for). The darker non-curl belts are XY or YY weight, the lighter curly ones are X weight (hopefully that may be the difference that explains the curl). There is a small number, perhaps a batch or lot number - 391 on the 220 grit, 241 on the 150 grit, 501 on the 80 grit, 451 on the 36 grit.


          • #6
            Ahem. Attention, world. Charlie may or may not be crazy, but this isn't evidence of it... About any mild cleaner will work on sanding belt material. I know some that use mineral spirits, it works OK but what a smell when the thing fires up.

            The "P" indicates the grit sizing method used, that one is called "p graded" or "FEPA". Klingspor has a comparison chart on-line at . What we would think of as "normal" grit is CAMI on that chart.

            On the backing, X and XF are cotton, Y and YY are polyester. That might be the difference. Again from Klingspor, .



            • #7
              The best trick I've found was told to me by the insane guy I bought my Jet JSG-1 from - just sand a thick block of clear plastic (like polycarbonate or plexiglas) for a second. It's honestly amazing. I was quite dubious myself, but it does the trick like nothing else.

              He gave me the 8" or so square ( *was* a square, probably) of about 3/8" thick plastic he used. Alas, I have no insight as to where a person could readily get it (anyone know?), as the only plexi-type plastic I've seen around is the thin (1/8"?) stuff.


              • #8
                You could look for plastic at,, or at a local plastic shop. For a block that size you are talking about a lot of $$$.


                • #9
                  I did some research for everyone (and myself for when I need a replacement).

                  12" square, 3/8" thick, $15. That's cheap to me - here it is from rockler.